Coronavirus

Véran places three more French regions under coronavirus restrictions

French health minister Olivier Véran announced residents in three more regions would face limits on travel and the closure of non-essential shops
French health minister Olivier Véran announced residents in three more regions would face limits on travel and the closure of non-essential shops AP - Ludovic Marin

French health minister Olivier Véran slapped tighter restrictions on three more regions on Thursday night as part of the government’s efforts to arrest the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Last week President Emmanuel Macron’s administration ordered the closure of non-essential stores and limits on travel in 16 regions including the zone around Paris.

Véran added the Aube in the north-east, Nièvre in central France and the Rhone department in the south-east to the list.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating almost everywhere in France," Véran said.

“The pressure on the hospital system will continue in this new wave. We're well into it ... and nowhere near out of it.”

The measures will come into effect on Friday at midnight and last for four weeks.

More than 93,000 people have died from coronavirus in France since January 2020, the fifth highest death toll in the world.

Vaccination

Véran outlined the government’s latest plan as health chiefs reported that just over seven million people in France have received at least one vaccination shot against the disease.

But as that campaign continues to roll out across the country, concerns are rising about the number of schools that have been closing due to the illness.

The ministry of education said 2,962 classes had been suspended, a rise of 30 percent since last week.

Jean Rottner, the leader of the Region Grand Est - covering cities such as Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Metz and Nancy - said the government had to contemplate a general closure of schools.

In a tweet he highlighted the explosion of suspended classes in his region from 27 to 355 within a week and added: "There appears to be a topic for discussion."

Alain Lassus, the leader the Nièvre region, also ramped up the pressure on Macron's ministers.

"I find the measures quite normal but insufficient," he told the news agency AFP. "

"It is necessary to close the schools as soon as possible and for five weeks in my opinion in order to cut the development of the virus."

The former general practitioner added: "It is time that health concerns became the priority. We’re exceeding the limits. The intensive care wards in our region are completely saturated."

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